A bronze statue, The Independent Man, stands proudly atop of Rhode Island's Capitol building, a sentinel overlooking sightseers below who glide in gondolas on the Providence River, past luminous office buildings and cobblestone streets leading to exquisite restaurants.
Founded in 1636, most of the city was burned in the late 1600s, during King Phillip's War (a battle between settlers and Native Americans). The surge of reconstruction that followed has provided Providence with some of the most significant and stunning Colonial-period architecture in the country.
WaterPlace Park is the focal area of Providence's revitalized downtown area, recognized for its outstanding design. A four-acre urban park surrounds a tidal basin, featuring an amphitheatre, landscaped terraces, boat landings, a clock tower, and a multi-use building.
A class act, Providence has long been associated with academic excellence. Eight colleges and universities enjoy campuses in the area, adding impetus to the region's intellectual, cultural and social life. Brown University is an outstanding Ivy League school with a world-class faculty.
There is a wide variety of family entertainment options in the city. The Providence Children's Museum is quite popular, located in the Jewelry District. It presents hands-on exhibit areas and lively programs for those aged 1 to 11, exploring the arts, culture, history and more.
Providence boasts numerous critically acclaimed restaurants, and coincidentally is also a major center for the study and appreciation of the culinary arts. Home to the celebrated Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the city has become a sanctuary for artists and entertainers. With the largest number of working artists in the country, Providence boasts an eclectic mix of galleries, theatres and museums.
The Arcade is the oldest indoor shopping mall in America (c. 1828), featuring colossal granite columns and extensive interior ornamental wrought iron work. A National Historic Landmark, the Greek Revival building boasts a facade with six massive Ionic columns and intricate cast iron railings and three tiers of shops and dining.
Westminster Street in downtown Providence, welcomes a diverse clientele of college kids, soccer moms, and high end shoppers. From cool fashions to chic home furnishings, it caters to all. The Providence Place Mall is connected via Skybridge to the Westin Hotel, which is, in turn, connected the Rhode Island Convention Center Complex. It features anchor stores Nordstrom's and Macy's, as well as more than 170 specialty shops and boutiques, five full-service restaurants on street-level, a nine-level parking garage, 16-screen movie complex and 400-seat IMAX theatre. Bring your camera for stunning views of the city, including nearby WaterPlace Park.
Wickenden Street on the edge of downtown Providence, is also on the edge of art and fashion, a trendy hangout for students from the nearby Rhode Island School of Design. Check out the art galleries, antique shops, funky bistros and coffeehouses.
Thayer Street is on the edge of the Brown University campus on Providence's East Side and here you will find bookstores, stylish boutiques, trendy restaurants, coffee and teahouses, and a movie theatre that features independent films.
Centrally located, the Providence/Warwick area is the gateway to Southern New England, a hub of culture, scenic beauty, history and entertainment. Getting here is easy. T.F. Green International Airport (PVD) is ten minutes from downtown Providence. Named one of the "Top Five Alternative Airports" in the country by Forbes magazine, it received a Reader's Choice recommendation from Condé Nast Traveler. Just off Exit 13 on Interstate Route 95, Green Airport is accessible to Boston, Cape Cod and South-eastern New England, and is fast-becoming a popular alternative to Boston's Logan Airport.
Courtesy of Providence & Warwick Convention & Visitors Centre
Mary Martin is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is interested in and writes about world travel.